For a time this summer, family and friends visiting the trim gray and white cedar-framed contemporary in Ocean Pines that Bob and Barbara Krebs call their beach home were politely asked not to use the front door. Not that they weren't welcome, mind you, but a wren had chosen to build its nest inside an ornamental wreath decorating the front door and Barbara was waiting for the young birds to find their wings.
Nearly 10 years ago, the Krebses selected a lot in Ocean Pines, a resort community on the Eastern Shore, and began thinking about the kind of home they hoped to build after Bob retired from his job as an engineer and partner at Gaudreau Inc., a Baltimore architectural firm. The wooded lot, much of it in its natural state, slopes gently down the front and opens up in back of the house, where mature trees provide shade and privacy. Walk a bit farther, cross a footbridge and you are on the adjoining 17th fairway of the Ocean Pines golf course.
It is a setting that underscores the relaxed but sophisticated lifestyle associated with Ocean Pines -- a community whose amenities include golf, tennis, a clubhouse, marina and more, even a private oceanfront club in nearby Ocean City. It is very much a setting that the couple used to their advantage when they designed and built their dream home.
"Particularly in the summer," said Barbara, "this place becomes home not only to me but also to our children and grandchildren. I love the peacefulness and feeling of open space and the way everything seems to flow together. It's a wonderful place for us to share time with family."
With three daughters, four sons and 13 grandchildren, there's no doubt that there is family aplenty for the Krebses. Nor is there any doubt that much of the charm of the hideaway is in the way it lends itself to an open, convivial lifestyle that parents and children alike delight in.
The single-story home, framed in front by a winding path and attractive plantings that include ornamental grasses, flowering dogwoods and other trees, features a combination of mulch and stone chips that eliminate any need for a lawn mower.
Larger plantings on either side screen the decks, and a center screened-in porch overlooks a private back yard. Splashes of color from plantings and the seemingly constant flashes of birds moving between feeders add to the park-like feeling.
"There are always birds," Barbara said. "We've even seen deer in the wintertime. Before we built, I used to bring a chair out here and just sit and enjoy the wildlife. That was something we really didn't want to lose."
Nor have they.
The interior of the house carries the same sense of light and airiness. A spacious foyer opens into a great room featuring a center fireplace, cathedral ceiling and skylights. Attractive groupings of furniture, large patterned Indian rugs and diagonal light oak flooring add to the sense of spaciousness -- a sense that is heightened by the relative absence of interior walls and the large windows, which open the whole back of the home to an outside view. To the right, the use of skylights and shimmering whites and vibrant colors accents a large kitchen strategically positioned to ensure the cook remains involved in the flow of conversation.
"We have lots of cooks in this family," she said, "and the kitchen just seems a natural gathering place. I can be in the kitchen while others are in the great room or the porch area and still am able to interact completely with everyone else."
Overall, the decor reflects a Scandinavian influence that Barbara attributes to trips abroad. Everything, it seems, gravitates toward the screened-in porch on the back of the home, where most meals are taken, and from there to the two decks on either side. These latter decks are accessible from the two ends of the house -- one that contains the master bedroom suite and a private bath with Jacuzzi, and the other containing two guest bedrooms.
In addition to the maintenance-free exterior, other little giveaways reveal the family-orientation of the custom-designed home, ranging from the oversized water heater and three showers to the many photos of family as well as wall hangings and other art produced by family members.
In fact, it seems fair to say that the design, construction and decoration of the Krebses dream house was definitely a family affair.
Barbara said that she and her husband had always wanted to design and build their own house. In addition to tapping into his professional experience, the Krebses drew from their children, including two sons who are also involved in small construction, a daughter who is an interior designer, a son-in-law who is in the carpet business and another son and his wife living in Florida who are landscape architects.
They also have come to appreciate energy-saving facets of the home's design. In summer, for example, the shaded lot eliminates the need for central air conditioning on all but the hottest days. In the winter, as the deciduous trees lose their leaves, the sun warms and brightens the home's interior.
"I love the city," said Barbara, who added that the couple make frequent trips between their Ocean Pines home and the lTC condominium they maintain in Loveton in northern Baltimore County. "And I love Ocean Pines. They're two different worlds and maintaining our home here gives us the best of both."
Pub Date: 8/31/97